By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, April 7: Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Hamzah has pledged to look into the issue of nine Sarawakian Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) athletes who have been left to fend for themselves.
“I will get to the root of the problem. I will leave no stone unturned. I want transparency.
“This was what I told them the last time we had a meeting with coaches and sport development officers.
“There should not be any hanky-panky. If there is, the officers will get the brunt of it,” Abdul Karim told DayakDaily.
He also specifically pointed out that these athletes whose predicament has been reported should not be penalised.
As he is still looking into the issue to get to the root of the problem, Abdul Karim asked for more time before making further comments.
Abdul Karim was responding to DayakDaily’s report of nine young Sarawakian boxers from rural areas who have been neglected and left to fend for themselves since February.
These nine athletes were summoned to Kuching and placed under one roof at Sungai Maong for training in preparation for Sukma which was supposed to begin on July 11 this year.
However, due to Covid-19, the competition was postponed with these nine youth who hail from different parts of Sarawak — Sri Aman, Sibu, Tatau and Saratok — stranded in Kuching.
Before January, three of these athletes received allowances totalling RM700. All nine of them survived by sharing this little amount they had.
Since February, without being informed, the allowances stop coming and this put them in dire straits where they had to rely on their Filipino coach who is staying with them to survive.
Often they are forced to live off fried rice and paku (wild ferns) which they collect from nearby swampy areas.
When the movement control order came into effect on March 18, these young athletes found themselves under more constrained conditions as the only athlete amongst them who could work part-time was forced to stop completely.
Despite being stranded in the house, the nine athletes however continue their training daily, to make sure that they are fit for competition when Sukma comes. — DayakDaily